ASBO Meets: Your Grandparents

Photo Credit: Ella Hovsepian.

Hailing from Los Angeles, Your Grandparents have been slowly building their name as one of the most stylistic, engaging and entertaining groups on the LA scene. More than just another R&B infused Hip Hop group, Your Grandparents transcend genre, taking sonic influence from everything from Funk, Soul, Hip-Hop, Rock, and Blues, with aesthetic influence from Blaxploitation movies and 70s cinema. Meeting as teenagers in High-school, Your Grandparents have a close bond, something which has given them a connection musically and personally which some bands could only dream of. 

They have recently released their debut album, entitled ‘Thru My Window’, a project laced with stories of love and youth throughout.

ASBO caught up with producer Cole AKA Ghettoblasterman, Vocalist Kyle AKA DaCosta and Guitarist and Vocalist Chaz AKA Jean Cater to discuss their debut album, journey and future plans.

How did you guys meet and end up forming Your Grandparents?

Jean Carter: We all met in middle school, we played sports together, lacrosse is where I met Cole and Kyle. We were just drew to each other  We became friends and formed the band when we were around 13. By the time we were 15, we were recording songs together.

Cole: We pretty much became a band after the first session we did. We had one practice then properly jelled with each other and were like, okay, this is a band now.

Jean Carter: It’s lowkey our tenth year of knowing each other..

How would you describe your sound for people who haven’t heard you before? I know you have a broad range of influences

Cole: I feel like this might sound silly, but we like the variety pack of chips you can get. You know those Doritos variety packs with all the different flavors. Imagine that pack but full of only your favorite flavors. That’s what we sound like, lots of different sounds but you know it’s going to hit.

Da Costa: I’d say we’re in our own lane. I think that’s not too narcissistic for us to say. We make music that isn’t just one genre. There’s a little something for everyone.

Jean Carter: Yeah, we’re very fluid with our genres. I feel like genre is a very loose term. But you have to be fluid with genre nowadays to keep up with the times. You have got to be able to not only evolve to know about what’s going on in a forward sense, but be tapped in with what was going on before that. So you have some context as to who your musical forefathers are. 

What are some of your first memories relating to finding an interest in listening to and making music?

Jean Carter: I grew up playing the violin, I started that when I was around six years old. Learning Violin gave me an ear to learn other instruments like guitar and bass. Growing up, my dad listened to Tribe Called Quest and Erykah Badu and would bump that around the house. When I found Kyle and Cole, they had similar music tastes and opinions to me so we would share lots of music.

DaCosta: My Mom played a lot of The Gorillaz, she would play lots of different types of music around me when I was growing up. That definitely played a role in me wanting to be a musician. I always gravitated towards writing, I dabbled a bit with bass and drums growing up as well, I’ve always wanted to be making music.

Cole: I started playing the piano when I was around eight years old, that was my first introduction to music. When I was around twelve or thirteen I got the ‘Native Instruments Maschine’ and started making beats.

Jean Carter: It’s always interesting to see how people find the music they love and want to make. It’s never ‘I heard Nicki Minaj on the radio’. Your music taste or what you’re exposed to usually is gifted to you by accident depending on what kind of household you grew up in

You’ve recently released your debut album ‘Thru My Window’ can you tell us what it was like creating this album? What was the creative process like?

Jean Carter: Yeah we put that out recently, we started putting out singles, like ‘So Damn Fly’ and ‘Tomorrow’ whilst quarantine was happening last year. We didn’t know what the world was looking like so we sat on them for a while and waited until they had room to breathe. With the pandemic, everything was in pandemonium. We’ve realized nobody gives a fuck about our songs right now. There wasn’t a huge plan as such, we just knew it was about it at that time to where we had to lock in, you know, we had to make a project. Lots of people had heard our previous project ‘Been Cold’ so it was exciting because lots of people wanted to hear what we were going to come out with next.

We were all in relationships whilst making the project so the themes of love definitely came out in a lot of the songs, lots of lyrics about romantic experiences. How fluid we are genre-wise, I don’t think we will shy away from talking about particular subjects, but we will always talk about whatever we are going through and I think ‘My Window’ is a product of that.

Cole: It’s like a time capsule almost, it’s like transfer paper. Everything we had been going through ended up being what the songs were about. As Jean said, we won’t shy away from any topic, subject or genre. What we were going through dictated the moods for each individual song, which is why it became so eclectic, you wouldn’t want trap beats on a more deep and melancholy track. Deeper songs need beats that can bring out the emotion a little more. 

DaCosta: We’ve known each other for so long. We have an insight into what we’re all going through whilst making music together. If we’re talking about relationships or anything that is going on in our personal life, it’s natural for us to kind of piggyback off each other’s emotions. I might see something he’s going through, he will start the song with a hook that relates to that situation, then I can write about it as well because I’m witnessing the situation first hand because of how close we all are. It makes the whole process of making music smooth. We are really lucky, I think it’s super fortunate that we are so close.

Thematically, throughout the album you tackle some very heartfelt topics, when you’re making music with an emotive message, where do you draw the ideas from? Is it from individual personal experiences or is it more abstract?

Jean Carter: I was talking to someone about this the other day, they asked if when I’m in a relationship, do people get worried that I would write about them. It does happen, we do pull from personal stuff we’ve been through, but when I write about these experiences, I’m not writing about one singular relationship when discussing my emotions. My feelings are not the product of one singular relationship, even if they are occurring in the relationship I may have at the time. I’ve been on earth for around 24 years, I’ve had experiences that still affect me now. When I write in the third person about relationships, I’m not just writing about one. It’s not just in a temporal sense of what’s going on now. It’s about who you are, how you become who you are and everything leading up to that.

DaCosta: Yeah it’s like Jean was saying, we do pull from personal experiences but we don’t just write about one particular relationship, there’s a lot that kind of leads to the situation and how we’re expressing ourselves as artists. It’s like a diary where you are just journaling your emotions and figuring out how you feel about certain things that you have been through.

Photo Credit: Ella Hovsepian

What influences you as a band? Both musically and non-musically?

Jean Carter: Definitely, cinema. 

Cole: I love dope photos and movies. I love design and seeing things that are very well designed.

Jean Carter :Yeah, we all love films. We are really influenced by movies when we make our music videos. That’s always a good time because we can give people a fuller picture of what we are like creatively

If you weren’t doing music, what do you think you all would be doing instead?

Jean Carter: I wanted to be an architect until i found out about all the math you have to do.

DaCosta: When I was young I wanted to be an astronomer, I was fascinated with space and planets, but I also couldn’t deal with all the math involved.   I also wanted to be a wildlife photographer for National Geographic. Just taking pictures and watching wildlife.

Cole: I wanted to do something creative, something in the art world. Something like fine art, graphic design and calligraphy and stuff like that. 

Jean Carter: I think I also might have ended up being a teacher in some capacity. I’m really good at communicating and have lots of ideas. My homegirl is starting as a teacher today, she’s letting us all come in and teach a music unit.

The video for the lead single from the project ‘So Damn Fly’ is extremely stylized and attention-grabbing, I noticed as a band you directed and produced the video, what was the process of creating this video like? 

Jean Carter: So, we had a plan. I was watching a lot of blaxploitation movies at the time. The ideas we had for the video worked perfectly because the song was made with the blaxploitation world in mind sonically. Superfly was a big inspiration stylistically, not just the movie, but the soundtrack that Curtis Mayfield did as well. That project is amazing. The shots were kind of difficult to get off, especially with the crew as small as we keep. It’s usually just us three. We split up the responsibility. There’s a lot of bouncing off ideas of each other that has to happen to make it work because we only had six hours to get it done.

I’ve read that a recent trip to Paris together really helped the creation of your album. How and why do you think being  in Paris helped with the creation of ‘Thru My Window’?

DaCosta: Being in a new environment really helped, it was a place I’d never been before, I was able to get away from everything that was distracting me creatively. It’s a beautiful city.

Cole: Whenever I travel and go somewhere new, I always feel like I get a different perspective on what makes me myself. I think there is a lot of independence that is forced whilst abroad, it was a whole different world and space.

Jean Carter Not speaking the same language as everybody helped me. I talk my ass off so if I can’t be fully understood I’m forced to become a better listener. I was going through some shit while we were in Paris, the timing of it lined up emotionally with changes I was going through. It was the perfect storm for shit to start getting created. 

What would you say is the biggest goal as a band?

DaCosta: I’d say, trying to rap more, we are trying to have more rapping on the next album for sure.

Jean Carter : We want to delve more into Hip Hop. I legitimately believe me and Kyle are some of the best rappers that exist at the current moment in time. I feel like we’re being too modest about it, I feel like a big part of Hip Hop is knowing when to have that lack of modesty and knowing when to talk shit. We don’t want to be overlooked when it comes to our rapping and would love to be in the conversation of the best rappers around.

DaCosta: We want respect, not just in the general music community, but the rap community specifically. We’re dope and it’s time to show people that. I would also love the band to open lots of doors for us, we want to say we are artists, not just music artists, we want to film, do photography, modelling.

Cole: I would love to make some timeless music, like how D’angelo’s music will always be played, I want that for us. I would also love a world tour, that’s a dream for me.

What has been the most rewarding thing about being an artist in this climate and what is the most frustrating?

Jean Carter: It’s rewarding in the sense that you can reach so many people in such a short amount of time, it’s limitless potential as far as many people can you can touch with your art. But it’s frustrating because there’s so much gimmicky shit out there that you have to sift through to find us. People are so accessible now, which is a good thing and a bad thing.

DaCosta: It’s easier to make the actual music now, especially for producers, but I guess the downside is you can have lots of half-assed production which is very one dimensional. That is why it’s so good to have someone like Cole who produces so well, you see him use the technology to his advantage. He knows how to work his way around all of it and make something awesome.

Do you have much on the horizon for the rest of the year, Any gigs or new projects?

DaCosta: Yeah, we have a couple of shows. We’re playing a festival in Las Vegas soon, I’m excited about that. Kendrick Lamar will be there which is really cool.

Cole: We are doing a lot of video stuff, not just music video content so keep an eye out for that.

Words: David Pratt